Starting in the eighth grade and into her freshman year in high school, Marti Landis had a smoldering crush on her friend’s older brother, and the feeling was mutual. Her friend’s parents allowed the girls to camp outside at night alongside the older boy. The close sleeping quarters fueled the boy’s burning desire and one night, the unthinkable happened.
Landis told Live Action News, “We had kissed previously, and he asked for sex, but I told him I wanted to wait until marriage. But one night, I woke up to find him on top of me. I kept telling him to get off me, but he wouldn’t. Finally, I gave in just to get rid of him. After that night, he was distant, and I was left feeling something very valuable had been stolen from me.”
It wasn’t long before 15-year-old Landis got involved in another sexual relationship to fill the aching void inside her. What she hoped would be a better experience resulted in her self-worth being tied to offering sex. Her older teenage boyfriend would, in turn, buy her gifts to keep the sexual favors flowing. Months of unprotected sex soon resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.
Abortion as the answer for unplanned pregnancy
“When I told my mom I was pregnant, she immediately told me I would have an abortion,” Landis said. “My boyfriend wanted to get married, but my mother refused to consider that option, so I really had no choice, but inside, I was struggling mightily.”
Landis’ mother and boyfriend accompanied her to the abortion facility, and she noted how deathly quiet the waiting room was, with only one other young girl present. The staff was pleasant enough, but for Landis, the sights and sounds during the procedure are embedded in her mind.
Landis said, “I remember hearing the clamping sounds and feeling pinches although I was doped up with nitrous oxide. Those sounds and feelings I experienced would remain with me for the rest of my life.”
Afterward, Landis was taken to her boyfriend’s grandparents’ home to recover. Landis’ father never knew about the abortion and life went on as usual.
But just a few months later, Landis was pregnant again. As before, her mother was adamant about her having an abortion. However, this time, only her boyfriend took her to the abortion facility and the second procedure resulted in severe cramping afterward.
“It took longer to recover from the second abortion,” Landis said. “I stayed at my boyfriend’s house until I felt well enough to go home. I did not return for the follow-up exam. The fear of not being able to ever have children always hung over my head after that.”
Abortion destroys a woman’s soul
Like many post-abortive women, Landis experienced grief, depression, and trauma. While her body eventually healed, the deep wounds inflicted on her soul remained. Although Landis had been raised in the church, she never had a mentor to help her grow spiritually. At night, she would pray to the Lord to forgive her for the abortions.
Landis said, “I never wanted to have either of the abortions. Reaching out to the Lord one day, I asked Him to help me name my children who, He showed me, were a boy and a girl. But even though I asked for forgiveness, I found myself sinking downward into a dark hole. I tried everything to numb the pain and even contemplated suicide. But I had to keep going somehow.”
After she finally severed ties with her boyfriend, he retaliated by spreading gossip at the high school about her two abortions as he had threatened to do.
“It wasn’t a healthy relationship, I see that now,” Landis said. “He was very controlling of my time and wanted me only to himself. While I had thought if we had gotten married, we’d be fine, I realized it would have not turned out well.”
At the age of 19, Landis married someone else, but the union was short-lived. Fortunately, she met a caring man a few years later who grew up in an evangelical Christian home. He told Landis he believed he had the call of God over his life and the couple attended church the weekend after their first date. Her faith renewed, Landis and her new boyfriend rededicated their lives to Christ.
Landis said, “It was a new beginning in so many ways. Jack and I were baptized together, and, on that day, the Lord revealed Himself to me. He told me to follow Him right up to the front of the sanctuary where baptisms took place. I knew He was telling me He would take care of me from that day forward.”
Helping to free women from the bondage of shame
The couple married and relocated to Southern California to enroll in Bible School. After graduating, the husband-and-wife pastoral team moved back to Ohio, settled in a friendly neighborhood, and started a full-time ministry. Landis knew one day she would share her testimony. That day came soon.
“I was walking home one night from playing bunco with the neighborhood ladies when one woman asked if I would help lead a group with her ministry of healing and deliverance. Of course, this ministry was for post-abortive women. After much praying and prompting from her, I revealed to her about my past abortions.”
Partnering with her neighbor to facilitate the classes helped peel back the layers of shame and regret. For Landis, the Forgiven and Set Free Bible study was cathartic on so many levels.
Landis said, “Feeling as if I was damaged goods was so hard to overcome. It is possible to be healed but it takes time and diligence. It took me years to be able to be vulnerable emotionally, physically, and intimately. Walking with God and reveling in His Word helps to break those walls of shame down. God can make all things new and beautiful.”
Through the years, Landis has served in ministry in different capacities. As post-abortive coordinator for Pregnancy Care of Cincinnati, she trained counselors to facilitate classes and later, founded Resilient Women’s Ministry.
“There are so many women who suffer silently,” Landis said. “Resiliency means to bounce back, spring back. The Bible tells us that God’s mercies are new every morning. No matter what has happened or what we’ve done, there’s hope for restoration. Sharing my experience offers me a way to help other women free themselves from the anguish of abortion.”